Posted in book reviews

Let It Snow – John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

Let It Snow is a collection of three moving holiday romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle and Maureen Johnson.
An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.
A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – brings all the magic of holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

What a pile of drivel.

Before I begin this review, I’d like to thank (and apologise) to Hayley and Emer for putting up with my rants about this for the last couple of days.

This book is so offensive. I genuinely could not believe some of the stuff I read.

Slut Shaming! Yay! Because why mind your own business when you can constantly shame others??

This book shamed women in pretty much every way imaginable, one way in which is that it engaged in slut shaming. Whether it was engaging in stereotypes such as: hot cheerleaders are just there to serve your sexual fantasies, as they are nothing more than a dumb, walking sexual object to be admired and then participating in creating those “you’re not like other girls” characters. Ugh.

There were many instances that really, really irked me and I found so incredibly offensive. Here’s an example:

“I forgot that Waffle Houses are like Lindsay Lohan’s legs: always open.”

I just . . . what in the heck? For one, this is a disgusting comment anyways. Like???? Legs: always open???? What sort of slut shaming shit is this?? Like this was not meant as a compliment in any sort of way. It was a snide comment made at the expense of Lindsay Lohan (I genuinely can’t believe the book named her) who the media has branded as this party animal, wild child, promiscuous woman…
This just adds to that narrative.
It adds to the narrative that women confident in their bodies are slutty.
It contributes to the discourse that women lose value when they’ve enjoyed sex.
It tells girls that their bodies are not their own and they are something to be gawked at, judged.
It’s a lie.

And it’s gross.

You’re not like those other girls. You’re an actual HUMAN BEING.

Oh, hello misogyny. Hello John Green.

Let’s meet Duke. She is our special, not-like-other-girls type of girl. Do you know how I know this? Because not only is it in her characterisation (tomboy, but just the right amount of girly and pretty, but also not enough to be seen as a weak girl, because you know, she is one of the lads really) but JP HAS TO REMIND US EVERY TWO SECONDS THAT DUKE IS NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS.

I shit you not, an actual line from this novel (drivel) is:

“She was much more like a person than other girls were.”

WELL WHAT ARE THE REST OF US, JP? JOHN GREEN, YOU MASTER OF WRITINGS FEMALES, PLEASE TELL ME?

Such lazy, lazy writing. Duke does not feel like a complex character. She doesn’t feel well written. If you’re having to use one of your other characters to convince us, the audience, of how amazing, how special, how unique she is, then, and stay with me for this one, maybe you should invest more time on developing said character.

Maybe it’s not just lazy writing though. Maybe it is just misogyny. Maybe just a bit of both. Either way, thanks for insulting my gender, John Green. Really appreciate it.

Here is just one example of Duke not being like other girls:

“If by that you mean that I dislike celebrity magazines, prefer food to anorexia, refuse to watch TV shows about models, and hate the color pink, then yes. I am proud to be not really a girl.”

There is so much wrong with this. Time for a list.

– Let’s not joke about anorexia. ‘Prefer food to anorexia’. Yes, and I’m sure people who have anorexia would probably prefer not to have it, so let’s not frame it as a) a joke b) like it’s not a serious eating and mental health disorder.

– Referring to the point above, it’s genuinely so sad and disgusting how normalised anorexia, dieting culture, etc has become in our society. And it is comments like this that add to the normalisation of it. This is <i>serious</i> and joking about how the majority of all these other girls who aren’t the completely unique Duke have it is so harmful.

– There’s a lot wrong with the construction of celebrity magazines but thats a larger, wider issue of gossip magazines etc. But in this case, maybe not shame girls for enjoying reading magazines???? Can we not like anything?

– As the point above, WATCH WHAT TV YOU WANT TO WATCH. I do not understand???? Why is it only girls associated with these things and why is it bad? Stop feeding the negative connotations of these things being shallow. THEY ARE ENTERTAINMENT.

– Oh yes. The I hate pink comment. I guess this one is personal to me (although, as a woman, all of these are) because I always hated pink as a kid. I used to not want to like it, wear it, be seen as loving it because it was *girly* and *girly* meant being *weak* and I had to be a *tomboy*. When you know what?? I can like pink, like action movies, enjoy watching my *girly* tv shows and WHO GIVES A SHIT? I can’t. Moving on.

Duke’s characterisation is just so, so harmful in so many ways.

– It tells all the girls who aren’t like her, that they suck – and are they really a person? Or just a dumb girl? This is telling them that they shouldn’t be like other girls. Because other girls are awful. Instead of praising them for being great just how they are

– There’s nothing wrong with the things Duke likes. Action movies? Cool? Not dressing in what would be considered feminine clothing? Cool. I don’t disagree that girls can’t like the same things as Duke. I just don’t think Duke’s character does her, or the things she likes justice, or the people who like different things any favours either.

– It just ultimately feels like one big giant tear down of everything women like. And I don’t want to tear down the things Duke is said to have liked, say, action films, because yes, girls do like them. But it feels like if they do, they can’t be a female, and if they don’t, well then they’re dumb girl…
And that’s what’s not okay.

ME, MACHO CAVEMAN. Ah!! Rape culture

“It’s like lions hunting gazelles,” I said as we watched the gaggle intently. “You just find a straggler, and-” a tiny blonde girl turned away from the pack-“pounce,” I said, as I jumped up off the stool.”

LOOK AT ALL THAT PROBLEMATIC LANGUAGE.
Ah yes, let’s equate women to being your prey.
Yes, let’s sit and watch one.
Yes, let’s wait for her to break off from the rest off the “pack”.
Ah yes, she’s away from her friends at the moment, so this is when she’s at her weakest, most vulnerable…
So let’s go approach her.
After watching her.
Waiting for her.
Then approach her.
Because that’s not creepy at all, is it?
The power dynamics in play here. He references himself with all the power, he’s the mighty lion, with a cunning strategy, waiting for her, the softer gazelle, to leave the safety of her pack to pounce…to attack.
It’s horrifying.
And this is just…accepted?
This is not OKAY.
This is NOT ROMANTIC.
THIS IS CREEPY AND RAPEY AND LEAVE GIRLS ALONE.

Why only be sexist & creepy, when you can be even more of an ignorant wanker??

Oh yes, let’s use slurs. There’s a broad conversation to be had about slurs in fiction, and whether they belong there. Are they unnecessary? Is it okay when they fit in to the storyline and a narrative in a way that’s not exploitative or doing it gratuitously?

It’s safe to say that Let It Snow a novel about teenagers, Christmas, and love, for young adult audiences, has no place for such slurs.

Guess what? Go on. Have a go. Do you think this book has slurs?
If you said yes, pat yourself on the back.

I will strike through the slur.
“Oh, Christ, forget it. Just come help me save these retarded misogynists.”

Sure, this book is a few years old now, but the slur has been dated and used as an insult for many, many years. I’m disgusted this even made it in to the novel and it hasn’t been removed since.

This is not the only time (surprise surprise) that someone’s mental state and ability has been made fun of. As above, we had the anorexia comment. There is a character in the novel called “tin foil guy” who is often made fun of, for you know, wearing tin foil. The characters are often making fun of him, demonising him, or being utter arseholes about him when he’s been nothing but nice. For example

“Right. I felt awful for the lady behind the counter, being stuck with him.”

Ah yes, let’s continue to ostracise everyone who doesn’t fit your perfect little mould of normality…
Sorry, I mean uniqueness. Can’t keep track here.

Because of course, it’s racist

I am white, therefore, I know it is not my place to always be deciding on what constitutes as racist and what does not. However, I would like to bring these moments to the forefront because they seem to engage in racism.

“I’d heard that the two of them had moved to Gracetown from the Cherokee Reservation, which was about a hundred miles from here. I thought that was cool. He seemed so exotic.”

Does the word exotic not have racial connotations? I’ve read multiple own voice journalism pieces and novels that have explored the word “exotic” and how instead of it being a compliment, the word often functions as a way of describing a fruit, or a bird. Additionally, is this not a backhanded compliment implying that people of colour do not meet the typical ‘normal’ Western looks, and are therefore this *exotic* ideal – i.e. something other?

As I say, I am not the authority on this. But this moment from the text seemed. . . peculiar. What was the need in referring to him as *exotic* because he lived on a reservation? It seemed to be linked to the point as I said above, it was a way of singling him out as being *different*?

Another term used was

“Jew afro.”

I believe the character this was said by was white. I could very much be wrong. It describes her as having “curly” hair, which was her “Jew fro.” Is this not an appropriation? Another careless without considering the implications – that many black people are discriminated against for their hairstyles, yet she can joke? It feels like an utter lack of self-awareness as she’s blinded by her own privilege.

To go or not to go on? That is thy question.

I could continue on with telling you all about each and every problematic, offensive moment in this book. This was just a snippet of some of the gross comments.

This should not come as a surprise, but I will give this one star.

Across all three stories, the first one was my favourite. Although, she did go to a random strangers house, and then the characters mother practically tried to force them together, and I genuinely thought she was going to get murdered . . .

The writing was poor all around.
Characters were weak and underdeveloped.
Not well plotted.
Offensive.

One star. And even that feels too much.

Author:

I'm an avid book lover, tv watcher, and music listener. Welcome to my blog.

5 thoughts on “Let It Snow – John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

  1. That’s crazy that they would actually name Lindsay Lohan. I have never heard of this until Netflix. I have yet to watch it but honestly, I won’t anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Appalling, right? Very surreal. I would actually recommend the film. I watched it last night before writing this review & can say that the film is a lot better from the book. They’ve changed so many details, plot points, and it’s certainly nowhere near as offensive as the book.

      Liked by 1 person

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